I would like to preface this blog with important context: the Calgary Roughnecks (1-2) lost both games to teams with top goalies in the league. Their first loss came at the hands, or should I say body, of the Rochester Knighthawks goalie Matt Vinc, who is first in saves (135) and second in save percentage (81.3%). Last week, Calgary faced Dillon Ward of the Colorado Mammoth who ranks second behind Vince in saves (125) and boasts the league’s best save percentage (82.8%). With that said, the Roughnecks still need to find a way to create better opportunities for their shooters.
Calgary forward Curtis Dickson admitted during a mid-quarter interview that the offense needed to step up, admitting that “four goals in three quarters is unacceptable and not going to win you any games in this league.” Currently, the Roughnecks offense is last in the league in settled goals (11) and settled shooting percentage (11%).
It is no secret that to win lacrosse games, you have to score. The Roughnecks are the worst in the league at doing so through the first four weeks of the season. They have found the back of the net a measly 28 times in three games played. They must be more active on offense and move the ball with a purpose.
Logging the ball is one of the least successful strategies in professional lacrosse. This clip shows a possession where the Roughneck offense was utterly stagnant. Dickson carries the ball for over ten seconds while the other runners wait for something to happen, eventually leading to a shot clock violation.
The next clip is a situation where the Roughnecks had cutting opportunities, but the play ended up as an isolation — one of the lowest percentage play types. Here Dane Dobbie remains near the top of the box as Riley Loewen is trying to set a down screen for him. Not a huge mistake, but a missed chance for catch and shot close to the net. After setting the down screen, Loewen rolls through the slot, wins favorable position and space on his man but was ignored for a potential easy finish right in front of Ward.
Calgary must utilize off-ball screens more often to create advantages for the offense. They are last in the league in off-ball action goals (3) and shooting percentage (7.14%). Movement on the weak side typically opens up space by preventing the defense to be in proper show position on a strong side play.
The Roughnecks shooters are having a hard time finding the net on off-the-catch shots. The team as a whole is eighth in the league concerning off-the-catch goals (13). Consequently, defenders are not closing out to them aggressively. This clip shows Rochester sitting and waiting for Holden Cattoni to shoot the ball.
When a team is shooting well, that forces the defense to attack the catch which in turn creates opportunities for players to re-dodge and beat their man to the net. The Roughnecks will have to connect from far out before they can produce more desirable shots closer to the cage.
The Calgary offense has shown flashes. More of this type of off-ball action, recognition, and precise ball placement should lead to more goals for the Roughnecks. Dobbie sets the down screen for Cattoni then proceeds to roll to the cage, attracting two Stealth defensemen. Cattoni recognizes both opposing players slashing to the cutter and floats back up to open space. Dickson notices the open man, puts the ball on Cattoni’s stick and Cattoni waste no time firing it past the goalie.
The Roughnecks will undoubtedly need to improve in the settled offense to be competitive this season. Look for Dickson and Wes Berg to run the two-man game on the right side more to generate extra open shots. Calgary will attempt to bounce back and find their shooting touch against a Buffalo defense that has allowed the second most off-the-catch goals (26).